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September 24, 2023


When 77 antique motorcycles rolled out of Virginia Beach a few weeks ago, each of the riders had their own hopes, goals, and dreams for the 2023 Motorcycle Cannonball. Most riders had only a vague idea of what challenges lay ahead; the road before them was yet to unfold. And now that the last day of the endurance run was here, the anticipation of those final hundred miles was palpable.

Stage 16, the final day of the run was only 105 miles, but still brought riders over some great roads. After leaving Palm Desert, the course guided riders through San Bernardino National Forest and through the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. The fun began with Highway 74 at Seven Level Hill, which was made famous by its appearance in the opening scenes of the 1960s comedy film “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” The road comprised several serious climbs and sharp curves, plus several steep descents with their own sets of curvy corners.

Riders continued to Doffo Winery in Temecula, where owner Marcelo Doffo has created a wonderful moto-space that includes his MotoDoffo wine, artwork, clothing line, and collection of over 200 rare and vintage motorcycles and scooters. We were provided with a nice lunch while enjoying the views of the vineyards and mountains. The course then took us to the coastline and down to Oceanside Pier, completing the coast-to-coast endurance run.

The Grand Finale took place at Josh’s Boars Nest, an Oceanside motorcycle shop a few miles east, where riders checked in for the final time and the checkered flag awarded to #99 Todd Cameron and his 1909 Indian Single. The last to check in was #138 Mark Zenor who’d maintained a perfect score throughout the competition as well as the Class 7 lead, until the last few heartbreaking miles when he had to load his 1938 Norton onto the sweep truck. Mark still “rode” the Norton proudly across the finish line, even though it was sadly sitting on the trailer.

Later that day, a cocktail hour and awards ceremony was held at the Mission Pacific Hotel in Oceanside. Before Jason made the main awards presentations, a few special awards were announced. These included the “Most Tires” award given to #109 Alex Trepanier and his 1912 Indian Single for five flat tires. Alex probably would have had more flats, but his course time was rather limited after the Single’s piston grenaded. Next was the award for “Most Tires Changed” given to Jeff Fredette who, at the first riders’ meeting in Virginia Beach, announced that he would change tires for anyone along the route, and he certainly kept to his promise. Additional awards went to #150 Tyler Golletti: “Broken Hitch,” #128 Donard Maniaci: “Slow Poke,” and #37 Jared Rinker: “Green Flag” who has now successfully completed four Motorcycle Cannonballs with a perfect score each time, to date the only rider that has made this accomplishment.

The “Spirit of Cannonball” award was presented to #52 Doc Hopkins who has competed in four Cannonballs on his 1916 Harley-Davidson J with wicker sidecar. Many folks do not realize how difficult it is to not only compete successfully in a Motorcycle Cannonball, but to do it with this type of sidecar attached to a more-than 100-year-old machine. And, three of his family members, plus Doc’s Top Fuel drag racer Rick Erdman, also competed on Team Doc’s this year!

Class winners are as follows:

Class 7:

1 – #86 Ed Contreras

2 – #4 Mark and Loring Hill

3 – #138 Mark Zenor


Class 6:

1 – #73 George Unruh

2 – #27 Gary Shorman

3 – #146 Matt Miller


Class 5:

1 – #117 Shannon Heling

2 – #61 Bob Zeolla

3 – #59 Micah McClosky


Class 4:

1 – #200 Andy Babister

2 – #32 TJ Jackson

3 – #178 Larry Luce


Class 3:

1 – #31 Mike Mooso

2 – #30 Keith Kardell


Class 2:

1 – #103 Andy Devine

2 – #52 Steven “EJ” Hopkins

3 – #53 Kersten Heling


Class 1:

1 – #99 Todd Cameron

2 – #1 Dave Currier

3 – #109 Alex Trepanier

2023 Motorcycle Cannonball Champion – Todd Cameron

The competition between Todd Cameron and Dave Currier was fierce, yet friendly. The two Cannonball veterans could often be seen riding the course side by side. And through each stage of the competition, everyone wondered whether Dave would keep the #1 spot or turn over the championship to challenger Todd. It wasn’t easy for either of these men to maintain the top two positions like they did throughout the entire run. Todd had to change both front and rear sprockets on his 1909 Indian Single not only many times throughout the competition, but multiple times in a single day! And Dave’s 1911 Harley-Davidson Single could not be left to idle in traffic or the belt would have burned up. Those who rode near him would see him either ride circles to avoid stopping at lights, or jump off the bike and roll it back and forth until the light changed or traffic cleared enough that he could jump back on and take off again.

Once the endurance run reached its conclusion, riders went through many different, and sometimes conflicting, emotions: exhausted and happy it was over, sad to leave the camaraderie and the new friendships formed, pleased with their bike’s performance or thinking about mechanical improvements for next time, ready to go home, looking forward to the next Cannonball—the entire range of feelings one can experience when an event of this magnitude is suddenly over.

How have the brands stacked up over the years? After this year Indian has now squared it up.

2010 – Excelsior

2012 – Excelsior

2014 – Indian Motorcycle

2016 – Henderson

2018 – Harley-Davidson

2021 – Harley-Davidson

2023 – Indian Motorcycle

It’ll be interesting to see which marque takes top points next time.

What’s next after the Motorcycle Cannonball? Stay tuned…